“Generals Die In Bed”.. from The Lost Canadian, Vol.1, Early Poems, 3.99 ebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Generals Die In Bed”

no time for diffidence; the dream
of death, ordinary:
and inconvenient, leaving debts
we should have left anyway

those ghosts bleed into history,
thickening everything; the next
step may lead anywhere:
choose carefully with whom you associate

©Dean J. Baker

-excerpt from The Lost Canadian, Vol.1, Early Poems, 3.99 ebook

in admiration of the WW1 book Generals Die In Bed by Charles Yale Harrison, pub 1930.

My very latest books – memorable, and mind-expanding new work: poems which truly mark a radical departure from previous work in tone, scope, and vision.

CELESTIAL MIGRATIONS IN THE EMPIRE  $9.99 print, $3.99 ebook

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Beyond Yeats, Kavanagh, and Heaney: Paul Muldoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s saying something but who cares what that it’s only recently I’ve discovered the work of Paul Muldoon.

And just before that, Derek Mahon. And before him, Patrick Kavanagh.

With Paul Muldoon the example below is from Moy Sand And Gravel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and the Griffin Poetry Prize.

Hard Drive

 

With my back to the wall

and a foot in the door

and my shoulder to the wheel

I would drive through Seskinore.

 

With an ear to the ground

and my neck on the block

I would tend to my wound

in Belleek and Bellanaleck.

 

With a toe in the water

and a nose for trouble

and an eye to the future

I would drive through Derryfubble

 

and Dunnamanagh and Ballynascreen,

keeping that wound green.

 

© Paul Muldoon, from Moy Sand And Gravel, 2002

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

 

©Dean J. Baker

CELESTIAL MIGRATIONS IN THE EMPIRE  $9.99 print, $3.99 ebook

..from DARK EARTH….’THE HERALD’… with biographical notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing more than abstract ornament,
explanations and discussions
keeping us to ourselves; we were
too petty for anything else. God
and Spirit, man and God again: no
insight into the common denominators.

Stupidity categorized the crews
taking over. In Canada, one was
reduced to waiting; at best,
you sent yourself notes (not poems)
hoping they would stay closed, or
fall open revealing all upon arrival.

You are lost either way. Death
enters your life: a troubadour
strolling through the provincial town.
Each gesture of government singing
the unwanted guest to bed, who is
finishing the last bite of food.

One brought no plans for conversation,
issuing invitations in the dark
he slips from his clothes. The livery
stark amusement, leaving only the arc
of a streetlamp which constellates:
the hard vistas of distant expectation.

©Dean J. Baker

first published in Jewish Dialog

  • excerpt from

  • DARK EARTH – 142 pages, $16.99
    ” The most unique set of poems I have ever read.”Rabelais and Hieronymus Bosch look out of dark chinks in these poems… instead of Emerson’s “Whim” above Dean’s lintel we might assume “Melancholy” resides here… that dark brooding that laughs below, and rises through the bones to jerk you awake from your too lazy sleep of existence.”
  • “Dean’s books will someday be required reading for anyone who studies literature, poetry, or, human artistry.”
  • “Having read Dark Earth by Dean J Baker my first reaction is WOW. This was written for me.
    His poetry speaks to me deep down in my soul.”
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A few notes on The Herald: I went to an advertised poetry reading at York University where I’d only previously been to meet up with Irving Layton.
Couldn’t find the room and was wandering the halls when I turned a corner and ran into Joe Rosenblatt, Francis Sparshott, and John Newlove.

I got to know Rosenblatt and Newlove, edited two books for Rosenblatt, and traded books and drinks and food with John Newlove. Outside Irving Layton, Gwen MacEwen, Al Purdy, Alden Nowlan, & Patrick Lane, and Milton Acorn – Acorn, Purdy, MacEwen whom I would come to know, exchange letters, share food and drinks, phone calls, Christmas cards, with – these two, Rosenblatt and Newlove, were my favorites. And Giorgio DeCicco, Maggie Helwig.

One day I wrote The Herald and mailed it to John Newlove – just the poem typed out, no note. Canada Post being what it was in those days I got a phone call the next morning from John.
Fairly wordless for John anyway, he stared by saying, ‘You have got to get this published. I’m speechless about it.’ etc.

NEW BOOKS

Celestial Migrations In The Empire 122 pages, $15.99

‘the best new book of poetry in ages..’

‘if any book could make you understand, love and want poetry, this is the one’

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companion book Of The Dominions Unleavened, 102 pages, $13.99

home base – http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com

 

 

The Poet In Journals – St. Denys Garneau

One of my favorite books from ages ago, The Journal Of St. Denys Garneau which I discovered in a bargain bin at the Coles where Neil Young worked.
I had been frequenting the Champlain bookstore in Toronto, when I first saw a mention of him, picking up books in the European style or French style, uncut pages you had to razor open to read Marie Claire Blais, Anne Hébert(Garneau’s cousin), and others, etc. Which of course led to other readings of Hubert Aquin, Michel Tremblay, etc etc.

All their works were distinguishable from  but inseparable from others such as Marian Engel’s Bear, Miriam Waddington’s poems, Frank Scott’s certainly, or Monique Bosco’s Lot’s Wife.

Favorite because it fit right in with circumstances of thought, countryside and origin (I’d go to read it in solitude in a place near Ottawa, having visited my mother’s birthplace in Campbell’s Bay, Quebec), and the poetic disclosures. The discovery attached to slicing open pages, and translating – since the poems were in French – always felt fresh and new, and I could see what was missed in other translations though John Glassco’s comes closest.

Reminded me that favorites are often due to a time and place, as are poets whose popularity mysteriously decline upon their deaths; similar to the most popular novelists of decades or centuries past whom not many can even recall.

The book lasts for many reasons then, one of which would be the essential self, made bare without being mired in the spectacles which pass for a self these days, through literate and real details as is the case in many of his poems at whatever level they may be taken.

He was as much a denizen of my ‘neighborhood’ of spirits and souls as Shelley, Shakespeare, or reaching back, Archilochus, and Marcus Aurelius.

©Dean Baker

Alden Nowlan – Greatness in Poetry

nowlan_

 

 

 

 

 

Alden Nowlan is one of those poets whom I never got to meet, and always wish I’d been able to do so.

I first saw one of his poems when I was in high school. And as with that poem, his other poems: they always evoke, a ‘yes!,’ about honesty and the truth of things. Always memorable. You’ll find them repeating themselves at the least expected moments.
The poem that first struck me was his ‘Aunt Jane.’

Aunt Jane

Aunt Jane, of whom I dreamed the nights it
thundered,
was dead at ninety, buried at a hundred.
We kept her corpse a decade, hid upstairs,
where it ate porridge, slept and said its prayers.

And every night before I went to bed
they took me in to worship with the dead.
Christ Lord, if I should die before I wake,
I pray thee Lord my body take.

 

©Alden Nowlan

Just to be sitting in your own world and to have 8 lines smack you awake out of the blue, away from your concerns and take you to revelation so quickly, so easily, and with such delight – amazing.

But Alden has many, many poems of the kind that do so – surprising in their humility, strength and understanding. His are the works you could carry in a small book with you and find sustaining every time you looked.
He covers history, patriotism, and more all in a beautiful way.

One other:

Canadian January Night

Ice storm: the hill
a pyramid of black crystal
down which the cars
slide like phosphorescent beetles
while I, walking backwards in obedience
to the wind, am possessed
of the fearful knowledge
my compatriots share
but almost never utter:
this is a country
where a man can die
simply from being
caught outside.

©Alden Nowlan

 

Brilliant work.

And from Alden Nowlan, Selected Poems

A Poem About Miracles

Why don’t records go blank
the instant the singer dies?
Oh, I know there are explanations,
but they don’t convince me.
I’m still surprised
when I hear the dead singing.
As for orchestras,
I expect the instruments
to fall silent one by one
as the musicians succumb
to cancer and heart disease
so that toward the end
I turn on a disc
labelled Götterdämmerung
and all that comes out
is the sound of one sick old man
scraping a shaky bow
across and out-of-tune fiddle.

 

©Alden Nowlan

These poems of Alden’s are a few of the good, and representative of his best. You need the book to even begin to get an awareness of his greatness.
Robert Frost may be more well known, but for me Alden wins the laurels.

© Dean J. Baker

all my books on salehttp://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/links-to-my-books-in-print/

Sweetness – by Stephen Dun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just when it has seemed I couldn’t bear
one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
has come
and changed nothing in the world

except the way I stumbled through it,
for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving

someone or something, the world shrunk
to mouth-size,
hand-size, and never seeming small.

I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn’t leave a stain,
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet ….

Tonight a friend called to say his lover
was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low

and guttural, he repeated what he needed
to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief

until we were speaking only in tones.
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don’t care

where it’s been, or what bitter road
it’s traveled
to come so far, to taste so good.
© 1989 by Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn, “Sweetness” from New and Selected Poems 1974-1994. Copyright © 1989 by Stephen Dunn.

A truly great poet – with  any number of fine books to choose from.

©DeanJBaker